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however true, I shall endeavour so completely to disguise under fictitious names, dates, and places, as to hurt the feelings of no one.
My father, whom I shall call Philip Dornay, was the only son of one of our richest West India merchants, and received a suitable education as the heir of his immense wealth.
At the age of seventeen, my grandfather, determining to place his son at the university, sent for him from school to spend the intermediate time with him.
He doated upon this only child, and had it not been for the excellent early instruction and advice which my father received from a pious and accomplished mother, now no more, he stood a fair chance of being ruined by the false indulgence of his fond and misjudging father. He indeed deemed his labours as nothing, when he contemplated the being for whom all his wealth was intended.
The very day before my father was to start for Oxford, my grandfather imparted to his son a scheme by which he intended to double his wealth ; " therefore, my dear son,” he said,
ver Vou want
“ remember that it is my wish that you should not only equal, but excel all your young companions at the University in your equipages. Whatever you want or wish for you shall have.”
My father was in the act of expressing his gratitude for such boundless generosity, when a letter being brought in, my grandfather retired to the window to read it, when a groan from him startled his son, who, turning round, perceived his parent sinking to the ground.
With difficulty he raised him, as he was quite insensible. A surgeon was sent for, who attempted to bleed him, but life was extinct. The letter which he had received was his death-blow.
He had just before told his son of a scheme on foot to double his immense wealth ; but he omitted to mention the risk. He had in fact risked his all, and his all was gone. In one moment he found himself, and, what he cared for more, his darling son, a beggar. It was more than he could bear, and, as has been seen, he fell down dead in an apoplectic fit.
As to my good and amiable father, much as he must necessarily have felt the shock which dashed him from splendour to penury, the dreadful and sudden death of his indulgent parent overwhelmed him with still greater grief.
After the last sad duties had been paid, my poor father found himself literally alone in the world, without a home and without a friend.
His father, always immersed in business, neither thought of nor cared for any thing else, and my father was too young to have even any acquaintance, except among his school-fellows.
What was to be done? He must either work or starve. He accordingly accepted the offer of a clerk's place to a merchant in one of the West India islands. There he remained nearly a year, but his health failing, he was compelled to resign his situation, hoping to procure a similar one in England. Again he was unfortunate; the vessel in which he sailed was taken by a French
privateer, and the crew and passengers were landed at a small village not far from Brest, and instantly marched up the country, after having been plundered of every thing they possessed.
It may easily be imagined that it required all the firmness my father was master of to bear up against this second stroke of fortune. He had not the hopes which his companions had, nor the means of passing the time of his captivity in comparative comfort. He was penniless, and had not one friend to whom he could apply for the smallest relief; and as, seated by the road side for a moment's rest, after having been goaded on through wet and mire the whole day by his brutal guards, he ate the bitter bread provided for the unhappy prisoners, his heart literally sunk within him.
At the end of a five days' march they were joined by a fresh batch of unhappy prisoners. They were all shut up for eight months in the fortress of a miserable town on the Loire.
Treated with the brutality to be expected
from the equalizing wretches by whom they were surrounded, their lives became almost intolerable. Their food was the worst and coarsest that could be procured. At length, after death had eleared off many of the healthier and apparently stronger prisoners, my father and about twenty others were marched off to a fortified place a hundred miles further up the Loire. Here they fared rather better, for though so strictly confined as never to be allowed to leave the citadel, they had freer air, better food, and not such dreadful brutes to deal with.
Some more English prisoners had already arrived, and they were all stowed in low wooden cabins, built within and under the walls of the great quadrangle.
The prisoners had been confined in this place about two months, when to my father's eyes the prison became a palace, and his confinement a pleasure.
This miracle was effected by the arrival from Paris of the governor's wife and her